Use Appropriate Tone and Level of Formality

Introduction to This Email Writing Training

Tone and level of formality affect the clarity of your writing and your relationship to the reader. People use an impersonal tone and formal vocabulary when corresponding with strangers with whom they will never have a relationship. To be clear and maintain a partnering, collegial relationship, use a cooperative tone and the same level of formality you would use in a business meeting with colleagues you know and regard highly. This lesson explains tone and the level of formality you should use in your business email.


Write Clear Words and Sentences: Activities

Locate two emails you have written that are a half-page to one-page long. Evaluate the words and sentences by answering these questions:

  1. Do you use a tone that fits the relationship you want, usually a partnering tone.
  2. Do you use a helpful tone that shows a regard for the readers that will encourage them to read and use the information.
  3. Do you avoid using a patronizing or distant tone that doesn’t address the reader directly as “you” and speaks about the reader as though he or she weren’t reading the email.
  4. Do you use a level of formality that fits the relationship, expectations of the reader, and message.  It should be a business style.

How would you change your emails after reading this lesson?